Almond Flour: Where Have You Been All My Life?

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I love baking. LOVE it. I love changing recipes, adding veggies and beans to cakes and brownies, tricking my family with nutrient-rich chocolate chip cookies, making the house smell a bakery, and I get giddy when I’m declared the best mom ever for feeding my tribe secretly healthy desserts.

Now, as some of you know, my son Jake has type 1 diabetes. He’s nearly 7 years old and also happens to be one of my pickiest eaters. This stinks (in a non-bakery nice smelling way) because I’ll make or bake something that has lots of healthy protein from hemp seeds or chia seeds, is low in white carbs, and will be perfect for preventing roller coaster blood sugars, and everyone will love it but him. Makes me CRAZY!!!

Until finally…. the stars aligned and I was clued into Simple Mills gluten-free, handful-of-natural-ingredient baking mixes based on almond flour. Not the crunchy, coarse almond meal that was in my fridge, but a fine, delicate, rare gem-quality flour made from blanched almonds. The Simple Mills mixes are pricey, so after I tried making one of each of their offerings, I decided that all I really needed to do was replace regular flour with almond flour in my favorite (and Jake’s favorite) recipes. This is why:

almond-flour-table

Almost 1/4 the carbs, 6 times the fiber (so 1/7th the net carbs) and twice as much protein. I knew right away that if this simple substitution worked, I would have discovered the Holy Grail of diabetic baking.

So. I learned that Jake doesn’t care for pumpkin anything (no son of mine). But, if chocolate chips are involved, he’s all in (definitely my child!). I’ve redone my famous marriage-inducing and TJ’s-published Chocolate Things recipe, with Jake, health, and flatline blood sugars in mind. Now presenting!:

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Chocolate Things: Almond Flour Version

Makes 9 large squares

This is a lower carb, lower sugar, higher protein version of my classic “Chocolate Things.” It may look like there’s a bizarre combo of sweeteners. There is! While I tried to make these 100% sugar-free, too much erythritol or stevia gave them a not-so-funky funk. Feel free to replace the erythritol, sugar, and maple syrup with 1/2 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional).

2 cups fine almond flour (like Bob’s on Amazon here)
1/2 cup white, wheat, or oat flour (blend gluten-free rolled oats to make oat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp iodized salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal
2 Tbsp Swerve (erythritol)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lite maple syrup (like Wholesome! brand with 33 g carbs per 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup melted Smart Balance, Earth Balance, or other non-hydrogenated margarine
3 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk or other nondairy milk
1/2 cup (100 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour and spread into a lightly greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Per square: 21 g total carbs, 4 grams fiber (17 g net carbs), 7 grams protein

And here is Jake’s blood sugar graph after eating one of these sweet little thangs at 10am. No spike! And no crash! We did it!

Let me know how almond flour works for you. It’s been a baking lifesaver for us.

xo

Jen

Homemade Dark Chocolate in 3 Minutes

So I’m sitting here with a napping toddler writing some recipe substitution tips when it hits me: I could really use a bite of dark chocolate, and I don’t have any, I don’t have any chocolate chips, and I can’t run to the store. Serious Emergency!

But I have cocoa… and coconut oil… and maple syrup… and another wackadoodle recipe is born chez Reilly:

Emergency Dark Chocolate
Serves 10

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave…)
1/4 cup flax seeds, hemp seeds, or other seeds/ chopped nuts (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat oil, cocoa, and sweetener. Remove from heat and stir in seeds or chopped nuts if using. Pour into dish and spread thin. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. 

What do YOU do in this kind of emergency situation? xo

Breakfast in Dessert Clothes

Choc Chip Protein

If you’re a busy parent, busy person, or night owl, this is one of the best quick breakfasts that has ever come out of my Bitchin’ Kitchen. Make a batch on a slow morning or weekend, freeze individual portions, and booyah! when the natives (or you) get restless and hungry. I went into the kitchen with my lab coat on specifically trying to invent a lower-carb, higher-protein, cravey (crave-able?) breakfast for my type 1 diabetic 5 year-old in prep for his upcoming kindergarten year — using stevia-sweetened protein powder to both boost and sweeten it. But now, we have something that is a family staple for the whole team. Best thing is, it tastes like dessert! Why not get the chocolate river flowing first thing in the morning? You only live once!

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars
Makes 12 large bars
325 degrees, 40 minutes

WET INGREDIENTS: Stir to combine
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup milk (I use vanilla soy)
1/4 vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

DRY INGREDIENTS: Sift together in a separate bowl
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 scoop Plantfusion protein powder or other protein powder providing ~20 grams protein per scoop

COMBINE WET & DRY, THEN STIR IN:
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal, or ground or whole chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds, ok to use other seeds or leave out)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9X9-inch pan.

Stir to combine wet ingredients in a large bowl, and in a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine, and then stir in flax, hemp seeds, and chocolate chips.

Bake in a 9X9-inch pan for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NUTRITION FACTS PER BAR: 227 calories, 8.5 g fat, 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 6 g protein, 9% daily iron.

Strawberry Lemon Tart Reunion

Strawberry Lemon Tart from "Skinny Dish!"

Strawberry Lemon Tart from “Skinny Dish!”

Now that you successfully decluttered your closet and possibly enjoyed the world’s tastiest latte on Day 8, it’s ok to add a little dessert back in without needing to detox again. When I wrote my Trader Joe’s Skinny Dish! cookbook, I really really wanted to master a cheeseless cheesecake eventhough I never understood the draw, and frankly never understood the point of dessert that wasn’t chocolate. Well, I failed! But, out of the laboratory, this tart was born. Free of chocolate and so totally good (huh?!?) that your engine might just start on its own. Embrace your success and celebrate! And call me crazy, but it totally rocks with green juice :>) xo

Strawberry Lemon Tart
Makes 12 slices
Prep time: 20 minutes
Hands-off cooking time: 35 minutes plus 1 hour for chilling

This far-out dessert started as a cheese-less cheesecake and morphed into a ridiculously delicious tart. It will wow you again and again.

Cinnamon Graham Crust
3 cups (about 90) Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies, or about 8 oz graham crackers
1/3 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, or other non-hydrogenated margarine

1 Preheat oven to 350° F.

2 In a blender or food processor, blend cookies until they’re crumbs. Add margarine and process until evenly mixed.

3 Press mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round pie pan so the edges come nearly to the top. The filling will only reach halfway up the pie pan, so the crust doesn’t need to come precisely to the top.

4 Bake crust for 5 minutes, and let cool completely before adding filling and baking further.

Lemony Filling and Strawberry Topping
1 (8-oz) container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, or other non-dairy cream cheese
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
10 medium strawberries, stems removed and sliced lengthwise (preferably organic)

1 Blend together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and cornstarch until smooth.

2 Pour filling into cooled crust and bake for 35 minutes, until the filling puffs up completely and has a golden glimmer. Let cool in the fridge for about 1 hour to solidify the filling. (If you can’t wait, at least let it cool to room temperature, and then top with strawberries. It will be a bit gooey, but still incredibly delicious.)

3 Arrange sliced strawberries on top and enjoy right away.

4 Store leftover slices (if there are any) in the fridge for up to 5 days.

NUTRITION SNAPSHOT
Per slice: 208 calories, 10 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 169 mg sodium, 27.5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 26 g sugar, 2 g protein, 0% vitamin A, 11% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 2.5% iron

Detox Day 1: Emergency Cookies

PB cookies

Happy Detox Day 1! I just love this day. Everything green is exciting and beautiful. A piece of fruit tastes like sugary heaven, and the background headache is somehow OK. Enjoy!

Well, as a preventative measure just in case the excitement of plant matter wears off during the week, make up a batch of these. They fit in the detox guidelines nicely and will taste oh so good while you’re drowning in raw green goodness. I mean, while you’re LOVING drowning in raw green goodness of course. To dessert!

Gluten-Free, Banana-Sweetened Almond Butter Cookies
Makes 20

1 cup gluten-free oat flour, almond meal, or coconut flour (see below on how to make oat flour)
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (no liquid)
1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 ripe banana

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make oat flour, in a food processor or blender, blend about 1 1/4 cups of gluten-free oats to make about 1 cup of flour. Set aside.

In a food processor or Vita-Mix, blend beans, nut butter, and banana until creamy.

Combine “flour” with bean mixture until mixed through.

With wet hands, form dough into balls (if not detoxing, the balls can be rolled into a bit of sugar at this point), and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Press down in a criss-cross fashion with a wet fork to prevent sticking.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Per cookie: 77 calories, 4 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein.

See you tomorrow! xo

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies

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Ever thought to put veggies and beans into brownie mix and then turn them into cookies? Wait, that’s not what you think about as you lie in bed at night? Oh. Well, I’ve taken on the age-old question and attempted an answer: How do we make brownies a complete meal? Announcing the High & Mighty Brownie Cookie. High in nutrients, mighty in taste and energy. And while I still serve them for dessert, they can certainly pass for a side dish or maybe even a main squeeze…

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies
Makes 48

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
Large handful kale, about 2 cups chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (the canned type)
1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup coconut flour, almond meal, or cashew meal

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend or food process beans, kale, and pumpkin into a smooth, olive green glop (probably not wise to taste-test this…).

Stir glop together with brownie mix and coconut flour (or almond or cashew meal).

With slightly wet hands, form into 1 1/2-inch round balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

Press down gently with a fork in a criss-cross fashion.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and chow down!

Nutrition Information Per Cookie: 74 calories, 1 g fat, 36 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein, 21% vitamin A, 3% iron.

Now you (or at least I) can rest soundly. Cheers to chocolate! xo

Anytime Apple Crisp

applecrisp

When the Reilly kids go apple-picking, they take it to the extreme. I kid you not, they picked 100 pounds of Fuji apples in less than 15 minutes! Of course, they had to taste-test an apple before deciding Fuji was the one they wanted, and I *have* read that an apple can energize you more than caffeine….

kellerapples

So other than eating them, handing them out to everyone we see, and making a lifetime stash of addiction-worthy Pumpkin Apple Butter, what will we do with all these apples? First on the list, an apple crisp so tasty and balanced, that it qualifies as a complete meal. My oldest mini chef played a key role in the super simple prep…

Anytime Apple Crisp
Makes 8 generous servings

FILLING
8 apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon, or about 2 Tbsp lemon juice

TOPPING
1 cup oats (I use gluten-free rolled oats)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup almond flour, cashew flour, or coconut flour
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup melted non-hydrogenated margarine, or coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss to combine all FILLING ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 13-inch baking dish.

In the same bowl (no need to rinse), stir together the TOPPING ingredients. Pour evenly over apple combo, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes to let the topping brown.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (including walnuts and chia seeds): 292 calories, 14 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 41 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 21 g sugar (mostly apples!!), 5 g protein, 10% iron.

How do YOU apple up? xoxo

“Mom, You Make the Best Brownies”

Simple Bean Brownies

Simple Bean Brownies

Hello vitamin friends! It’s been a while! Look for many new tips and recipes because I’ve been conquering the BEST quinoa chili, homemade slow-cooker applesauce, and countless healthy concoctions for picky kids. But, for now, I must post our new favorite dessert. Just 2 ingredients, it’s low-fat, gooey, crowd-pleasing, and includes beans. Booyah! I knew you’d be sold when I said ‘beans!’

Simple Bean Brownies
Makes 16 squares

1 package brownie mix (my favorite is Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix, reviewed and pictured here)
1 15-oz can black beans (or 1 3/4 cups cooked black beans plus 3/4 cup water), blended (including liquid)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Stir mix with blended beans.

3. Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan, and pour/spread brownie batter into pan evenly.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked in the center.

5. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar (I do this through a sifter) – Optional. 

Surprise and scare all your favorite family and friends! 

Nutrition info per mouth-watering square: 144 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 146 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 2.5 g protein, 11% iron.

Note: For an extra health punch, stir 1/2 cup shredded zucchini or carrots into the batter, OR blend a handful of spinach or kale with the beans. 

You can’t even taste the beans (or the veggies). And, I kid you not, my kids won’t eat ANY other brownie. Chocolate cheers!

WAFFLE HOUSE in the House

First Belgian Waffle Experiment

First Belgian Waffle Experiment

I have fond and scary memories of that Belgian waffle maker in the Penn State dining hall… gooey batter dripping all over the floor, steamy eggness evaporating into the air, and then plates upon plates floating by with waffles buried beneath sugary frozen yogurt, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry (fruit! fiber! health?). I knew then that I picked the right major. At that rate, I’d never be out of a job as a dietitian.

So only just today, after a hand-me-down waffle maker arrived chez moi, did I fully embrace the beauty and wonder that is the fresh, steamy, Belgian waffle. Of course I took a basic waffle recipe and removed the eggs, added flaxseed meal, used unsweetened soymilk, and topped them with frozen organic strawberries heated into a hot syrup. I mean, I bought jam made out of tomatoes last week for crying out loud! BUT. They were still REALLLY good! And basically good for you. Next time I’ll add chia seeds and perhaps some shredded zucchini and goji berries. But until then….

Belgian Waffles Gone Good-for-You

Makes 7 waffles
Materials: A fantastic mother-in-law who is done with her waffle maker

Sift these together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Stir these in a separate bowl, then add to sifted bowl:
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or any flavorless oil or melted margarine)
2 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional, but gives a fiber punch and a cholesterol-lowering boost!)
1 Tbsp vanilla (optional)

Heat waffle maker according to package instructions. On the Sunbeam, it’s about 5 minutes plugged in until the light goes off.

Spray top and bottom with cooking oil, or if you don’t have a sprayer, pour one teaspoon on the bottom and wipe a little oil on the top with a paper towel.

Pour 1/2 cup batter into waffle maker and close, lifting only after at least 3 minutes, or when the steam emersion stops. (You’ll know.)

Top with heated strawberries, maple syrup, powdered sugar, or eat plain.

Nutrition Info Per Waffle (all 4 sections): 260 calories, 11 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 366 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, <1 g sugar, 8 g protein, 4% vitamin A, 12% vitamin D, 13% calcium, 12% iron.

50 Sweet and Salty 100-Calorie Snacks

100Need something but don’t want to totally blow it? Here are 50 sweet and salty snack ideas adapted from and added to a list on Greatist.com. These little minis just might take the edge off until the next meal.

SWEET ACTION

    1. Larabar or Pure Energy Organic bar of choice: Half the bar, or 1 Larabar mini-bar
    2. Grapes: 1 cup, fresh or frozen. Freezing makes you eat them more slowly
    3. Chocolate Banana: 1/2 frozen banana dipped in 1 square melted dark chocolate
    4. Latte Love: 8 ounces steamed vanilla almond milk with 1 shot espresso
    5. PB Apple: 1 small organic gala apple, sliced and dipped in 2 teaspoons peanut butter
    6. Shredded Frosted Mini Wheats: 20 of ’em
    7. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins cereal: 50 (a little less than 1 cup)
    8. Mini PB&F: One fig newton with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    9. Spiced Orange: One orange— about the size of a tennis ball— sprinkled with cinnamon
    10. Grilled Pineapple: 2 ¼-inch thick pineapple rounds (about 1 cup), grilled (or sautéed) for two minutes or until golden
    11. Berries n’ Cream: 1 cup blueberries with 2 tablespoons non-dairy whipped topping
    12. Oats n’ Berries: ⅓ cup rolled oats (cooked with water), topped with cinnamon and ¼ cup fresh berries
    13. Dark Chocolate: One block, or three squares
    14. Chocolate Chia Pudding: 1/2 serving
    15. Nut-Stuffed Date: One Medjool Date filled with one teaspoon natural unsalted almond butter
    16. Cinnamon Applesauce: 1 cup unsweetened
    17. Grapefruit: 1 large, sprinkled with Truvia if needed
    18. Milk n’ Cookies: 6 animal crackers with ½ cup vanilla almond milk
    19. Shamrock Smoothie: 1 cup
    20. Jelly Beans: 25 of ‘em! Although reserved only for the worst sugar-craving moments
    21. Apple Chips: ¾ cup
    22. PB Graham: 1 large graham cracker smeared with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    23. Just Mango: 1 oz dried mango snack bag from Just Tomatoes, etc!
    24. Clementines: THREE!
    25. Strawberries: 25 medium ones, sliced & sprinkled with Truvia for extra sweetness

SALTY DOG

  1. Trader Joe’s Mesquite Smoked Seasoned Almonds: 15
  2. Carrots n’ Hummus: About 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus.
  3. Pistachios: A couple handfuls— about 25
  4. “Cheesy” Breaded Tomatoes: 3 roasted plum tomatoes sliced and topped with 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
  5. Curried Sweet Potato: One medium sweet potato cooked for 6 minutes in the microwave, mashed with 1 teaspoon curry powder, & a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  6. “Cheesy” Popcorn: 2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast— tastes like real cheese!
  7. Soy Edamame: 1/2 cup boiled Edamame with 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  8. Dijon Pretzels: 2 ½ pretzel rods with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. Kale Chips: 1 cup raw kale— stems removed— baked with 1 teaspoon olive oil at 400° until crisp
  10. Sweet Potato Fries: 1 medium sweet potato sliced, sprinkled with 1 tsp olive oil, & baked at 400° for 10 minutes
  11. Cucumber Sandwich: ½ English muffin with 2 tablespoons olive hummus & three slices of cucumber
  12. Mixed Olives: About 8
  13. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, sprayed with oil (just a spritz!) & baked at for 400° for 15 minutes or until brown. Sprinkle with kosher salt
  14. Balsamic Veggies: 3 cups raw peppers (any color!) dipped in 2 tablespoons low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
  15. Cucumber Salad: One large cucumber (sliced) with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  16. Crunchy Raw Kale Salad: 1 cup kale leaves chopped with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  17. TJ’s Roasted Seaweed Snack: 1 1/2 packages!
  18. Chick Pea Salad: 1/3 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and ¼ cup diced tomatoes
  19. Grilled Garlic Corn on the Cob: One small-sized ear brushed with 1 teaspoon sautéed minced garlic & 1 teaspoon olive oil, grilled until tender
  20. Chips n’ Salsa: 10 baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup salsa
  21. PB & Celery: 1 medium celery stalk with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  22. Rice Cake & Almond Butter: 1 lightly salted rice cake with 2 teaspoons almond butter
  23. Old Bay Beans: 1/3 cup chick peas baked for 10 minutes at 350° with Old Bay Seasoning
  24. Goddess Veggies: Countless raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons Goddess Dressing
  25. Popchips: 1 snack-size bag of the plain potato variety

Cheers until the next feeding!

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